By W.R. Jones
Donald was his first name, I didn’t catch his last name but he looked familiar. He had a very strange looking comb over with hair that looked like cotton candy sprayed with a black lacquer. We were setting up to paint and he was standing between me and that blond beauty, Susan Gardner.
I offered him $5 to change places; telling him I liked the light better on the other side. He said he didn’t deal with such small sums. I upped the offer to $10 and he said that wasn’t going to get it, and did I notice how good she smelled. OK, I says will you take $15? He smiles and points out those form fitting white jeans. Damn, $20 is all I’ve got, my last bit of money from the inheritance. “You sure that’s all you got”, he questions. Yep, I say. “Good”, he says, “I like taking a man’s last cent.”
I moved over and watched her set up the still life above. The symbolism was blatant. I suspect she was doing it subconsciously unaware I could read it like a book. The clear bottle was me; it stood for clarity of vision and purity of heart and soul. The blue bottle was her and represented murky depths that will always remain obscure and impossible to understand (actually, I suppose it represents all women). The silver bowl stands for money. You have to have coin to get close to this bottle (this too really stands for all women). I should have painted my lost $20 in the bowl but didn’t have any sap green on my palette.
So, there I was, painting next to her; I got what I bargained for didn’t I? Not exactly; like the old saying “be careful of what you wish for”, that Donald guy skinned me. He knew she was a smoker. As soon as that still life was arranged, she lit up a cigar and started chomping on it like Mango on a baby back rib bone.
The entire session she was blowing smoke in my face. Between puffs she would put the cigar right in the middle of the set up. For more than an hour I listened to “Phhht, thwack” sounds as she spit the tobacco bits across the room into the trash can. I’ve got to give her this; she was quite accurate.
You doubt the story? Hey, look at the painting, a picture is worth a thousand words, or about a 1/2 cup of gasoline.
And me; I won’t part with more than $12 to paint next to her again.